Prediction of southern oscillation index using spectral components


  • R. P. KANE



Southern oscillation index, SOI, Singular spectrum analysis, SSA, Maximum entropy method, MEM, El-Niño


The time series of SOI (Southern Oscillation Index, Tahiti minus Darwin sea-level atmospheric pressure difference) was spectrally analysed by a simple method MEM-MRA, where periodicities are detected by MEM (Maximum Entropy Method) and used in MRA (Multiple Regression Analysis) to get the estimates of their amplitudes and phases. From these, the three or four most prominent ones were used for reconstruction and prediction. Using data for 1935-80 as dependent data, the reconstructed values of SOI matched well with observed values and most of the El Niños (SOI minima) and La Niñas (SOI maxima) were located correctly. But for the independent data (1980 onwards), the matching was poor. Omitting earlier data, 1945- 80, 1955-80, 1965-80 as dependent data again gave poor matching for 1980 onwards. When data for 1980 onwards only were used as dependent data, the matching was better, indicating that the spectral characteristics have changed considerably with time and recent data were more appropriate for further predictions. The 1997 El Niño was reproduced only in data for 1985 onwards. For 1990 onwards, only a single wave of 3.5 years was appropriate and explained the 1997 and 1994 events but only one (1991) of the 3 complex and quick events that occurred during 1989-95. The UCLA group of Dr. Ghil has been using the SSA (Singular Spectrum Analysis)-MEM combination for SOI analysis. For the 1980s, they got very good matching, but the 1989-95 structures were not reproduced. For recent years, their SSA-filtered SOI (used for prediction) is a simple sinusoid of ~3.5 years. It predicted the El Niño of 1997 only at its peak and even after using data up to February 1997, the abrupt commencement of the event in March 1997 and its abrupt end in June 1998 could not be predicted.


Using only a 3.5 years wave, an El Niño was expected for 2000-2001. However, a very long-lasting La Niña seems to be operative and there are no indications as yet (September of 2001) of any El Niño like conditions.




How to Cite

R. P. . KANE, “Prediction of southern oscillation index using spectral components”, MAUSAM, vol. 53, no. 2, pp. 165–176, Apr. 2002.



Research Papers